Last year around this time, Watson was looking for a way out of Houston. It would take only a few months after for his name to be plastered around the media world for allegations of sexual misconduct. As of this month, Deshaun Watson has been cleared of all criminal charges against him. In that year time soon, Watson has not sniffed the football field. He was sidelined for the year so the courts could do their business.
Now, just a few weeks after Watson was cleared of all criminal charges, he has become the most wanted quarterback in the NFL. Every team without a legitimate franchise quarterback looked into the option of adding Watson to their team. The Watson situation is a little different than most potential trades that go on in the NFL. Watson has a no-trade clause that allows him to pick and choose where he would be open to getting traded to. This made the job of trading Watson very difficult during the year when the investigation proceedings were taking place. Now that Watson has been cleared, teams around the NFL look at Watson as the missing piece to their championship aspirations.
Early on in the Watson Sweepstakes, the Carolina Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers dove head first to check out the possibility. The Steelers ended up going with former 2018 1st-round pick quarterback Mitchell Trubisky as their quarterback going into 2022. The Panthers seemed to be an interesting fit, but I feel that Watson’s camp had the same thought as I; Panthers Head coach Matt Rhule might not last past next season if the Panthers can’t win some games.
New Orleans Saints
Following the Panthers attempt, the Saints, Falcons, and Cleveland Browns looked into adding the talented quarterback. The Saints are without Drew Brees and Sean Payton who both have retired from football. The Saints have a great roster, but if you are old enough to remember the Saints before Payton, you can see why Watson might be hesitant to sign with New Orleans.
Furthermore, the ideal landing spot might have been the Atlanta Falcons. Watson is from Gainesville, GA, which is only about an hour and a half out from Atlanta, GA. The Falcons would be home for Watson who was a ball boy for them when he was younger. The opportunity seems like destiny fulfilled, but unlike the Saints, the Falcons roster is in shambles. The roster lacks talent and depth in a lot of key areas. Watson spent most of his pro years running from the defense because of how bad his offensive line was. Atlanta’s only player for the future is 2021 1st-round pick tightend Kyle Pitts.
The Browns are the odd team in the sweepstakes. The other three teams fighting for his services don’t have a quarterback, but the Browns do. In 2018, the Browns drafted #1 overall pick Baker Mayfield as their franchise quarterback. At first, the thought was that Mayfield might be a good player with a bad coaching staff around him.In the years since drafting him, the Browns have built one of the best rosters in the NFL. The talent is remarkable, but without a great quarterback all that talent can go to waste. The Browns have a very small window left to make magic with what they have and they know it. Going after Watson might seem like they have no loyalty to Mayfield, but that is exactly what it is.
Although this thought isn’t popular to say, but pro sports have no loyalty. The entire objective is to win with in the rules of the game. The NFL is probably the most cutthroat league in the world. Players are traded and cut at the drop of a hat, and getting back into the good graces of the league leaders is harder to do when you are without a team. Mayfield may have led the Browns to the playoffs once in his 4 years, but he hasn’t shown the growth the Browns need to win now.
Unlike Mayfield, Watson has become one of the best in the NFL. Before the allegations, Watson was considered a MVP favorite going into 2021. Watson was the only piston working in the Texans engine, but for the Brown he would be the turbo needed to get possible over the hump. The AFC isn’t getting any easier, and having a quarterback that can’t get it done on his own will handicap you for the next 10 years or so.
With that being said, Baker Mayfield saw the news about the Browns pursuit to of Watson and wrote a letter to the city of Cleveland. The writing became clear on the walls that his time leading the Browns was coming to an end. Baker went on the request a trade that was initially denied.
The Falcons and the Saints became the finalist for Watson’s services on Thursday. The battle between two NFL rivals looked to be a good one that would be a step in the right direction for one of them to return to competing for Super Bowls. But, news broke that the Cleveland Browns had jumped back into the race for Watson’s services and went all in. Watson behind closed doors agreed to a $184 million deal in the first 4-years and $230 million deal guaranteed over the lifetime of the contract. The Browns trade three 1st-round, third round, and a fifth round pick to the Texans.
This move is a franchise changer for the Browns who have become a Super Bowl contender almost immediately. The AFC North just became just as exciting as the AFC West with all the quarterback talent.